Bureau of Reclamation Banner
Central Utah Project - Bonneville Unit
Aerial view of Jordanelle Dam and Reservoir
Project Links
Project History
Project Data
Contact Information
Parent Program/Project
Central Utah Project
Related Facilities
Related Documents
Bonneville Unit Project History (pdf)
General Description| Plan| Development| Benefits


General Description

The Bonneville Unit is located in portions of Salt Lake, Utah, Juab, Wasatch, Summit, and Duchesne Counties. The Bonneville Unit develops the water resources in mountainous areas in northeast Utah for use in the Bonneville Basin (west of the Wasatch Mountains) and in the Uinta Basin (east of the Wasatch Mountains). The Bonneville Unit develops water supplies by collecting and storing excess flows of the Duchesne River and its tributaries, by water rights purchased in Utah Lake, and by return flows. Bonneville Unit facilities make a trans-basin diversion of water from the Colorado River to the Bonneville Basin and deliver water for municipal and industrial (M&I), irrigation, and instream flow maintenance in both basins.

Return to top


Existing Water Projects

Two major federal water projects were in existence before formulation of the Bonneville Unit the Strawberry Valley Project and the Provo River Project. The Bonneville Unit augments the water supply available to the areas served by these two projects.

The Strawberry Valley Project provides irrigation water to southern Utah County. Its features consist of Strawberry Reservoir, Strawberry Tunnel, a system of diversions and canals for distribution of Strawberry Valley Project water, and 2 hydropower plants. All were constructed between 1906 and 1922 and are operated by the Strawberry Water Users Association (SWUA).

Parts of the Strawberry Valley Project have been integrated into the Bonneville Unit. Strawberry Reservoir was enlarged by the construction of Soldier Creek Dam, located downstream from the old Strawberry Dam, to provide increased storage capacity. Deliveries are now made through the Sixth Water Aqueduct and Syar Tunnel which has replaced the Old Strawberry tunnel. Most of the Strawberry Valley Project water, which is currently diverted from the Spanish Fork River and delivered through the High Line Canal, will be delivered along with Bonneville Unit water in the proposed Main Conveyance Aqueduct of the Spanish Fork Canyon Nephi Irrigation System . This will eliminate the need to renovate a significant portion of the old canal.

The Provo River Project provides irrigation water in northern Utah County and southern Salt Lake County west of the Jordan River and M&I water for Salt Lake and Utah Counties, by developing storage on the Provo River and enlarging trans-basin diversions into the Provo River Basin. Constructed in the 1940`s, its features include Deer Creek Dam and Reservoir, Provo Reservoir Canal, Murdock Diversion Structure, Salt Lake Aqueduct, Weber-Provo Canal, and the Duchesne Tunnel. The newly constructed Jordanelle Reservoir of the Bonneville Unit M&I System was built upstream of the Provo River Project and greatly increases reservoir storage capacity on the Provo River.

Changes Authorized by the Central Utah Project Completion Act

The Central Utah Project Completion Act of 1991 (CUPCA) modified some of the six Bonneville Unit systems by adding or eliminating features. The most notable changes occurred to the Irrigation and Drainage (I&D) and Diamond Fork Systems.

The I&D System was reauthorized with changes including the elimination of facilities to convey water from Utah Lake to the Mosida area, the draining of Benjamin Slough, and diking of Goshen Bay and Provo Bay in Utah Lake. CUPCA required the Main Conveyance Aqueduct to be constructed as a pipeline, instead of including reaches of open canals as previously proposed. Provisions were also included affecting the service area of the system. The I&D System was subsequently replaced by the Spanish Fork Canyon Nephi Irrigation System and it will no longer deliver Bonneville Unit water outside the Utah Lake drainage basin. Requirements for minimum streamflows were added to the operation of the Diamond Fork System.

Additional Components Authorized

Besides providing direction for the completion of the six Bonneville Unit Systems, CUPCA authorized other Bonneville Unit components that improve water management and wildlife habitats.

The Bonneville Unit systems as well as other components authorized by CUPCA are described in the following subsections.

Starvation Collection System

The Starvation Collection System, which has been completed, develops water for irrigation and M&I use and provides flood control, recreation, and fish and wildlife benefits in the Duchesne area of the Uintah Basin. Regulatory storage is provided by the 167,310 acre-foot Starvation Reservoir, which is situated on the Strawberry River, and to which Duchesne River water is diverted by the Knight Diversion Dam and Starvation Feeder Conduit.

Knight Diversion Dam, completed in July 1968, diverts water from the Duchesne River into the Starvation Feeder Conduit. It is located on the Duchesne River approximately 5 miles upstream from the town of Duchense. The dam consists of a rolled earthfill dike, a concrete overflow section, and headworks with a sluiceway.

The Starvation Feeder Conduit, completed in November 1968, delivers water from Knight Diversion Dam to Starvation Reservoir. The conduit consists of almost a mile of pipeline and the mile long Starvation Tunnel. Three access roads totaling 0.9 mile in length were constructed to these features.

Storage of water in Starvation Reservoir (167,300 acre-feet) began in November 1969 and Starvation Dam was completed in March 1970. The reservoir stores flows from the Duchesne and Strawberry rivers. This water is released as needed to supplement present irrigation supplies in the Duchesne River area and to honor water diverted to the Bonneville Basin by Strawberry Aqueduct. Starvation Reservoir is expected to fluctuate quite widely from year to year depending on available water supplies. The reservoir is filled by surplus winter and spring flows, with the maximum content for the year usually reached during April, May, or June. Releases will normally be made during the summer and early fall months. Approximately 75 percent of the time there will be holdover water in the reservoir at the end of the year which may be used for the next irrigation season. Starvation Dam is a rolled earthfill structure 155 feet high and 2,920 feet long at the crest located on the Strawberry River about 3 miles upstream from Duchesne.

Strawberry Aqueduct and Collection System

The Strawberry Collection System, which has been completed, intercepts the flows of Rock Creek and eight other tributaries of the Duchesne River and conveys them to Strawberry Reservoir. The construction of Soldier Creek Dam on the Strawberry River, located downstream from the earlier Strawberry Dam, enlarged Strawberry Reservoir`s capacity to 1,106,500 acre-feet. Other major features of the Strawberry Collection System include Upper Stillwater Dam and Reservoir, Currant Creek Dam and Reservoir, and the Strawberry Aqueduct, which unifies the system.

Bonneville Unit M&I System

The Bonneville Unit M&I System is essentially complete. It provides M&I water for Salt Lake, Utah, and Wasatch Counties, and supplemental irrigation water for Wasatch and Summit Counties. Regulatory storage is provided by the 363,000 acre-foot Jordanelle Reservoir on the Provo River upstream from Heber City. Other features of the Bonneville Unit M&I System are the second stages of the Jordan Aqueduct in Salt Lake County, the Alpine Aqueduct in northern Utah County, the rehabilitation of three small reservoirs at the headwaters of the Provo River (to provide water storage), the not yet completed rehabilitation of 12 small reservoirs (to improve their wildlife values) and recreation development at Jordanelle Reservoir. Deliveries under the M&I System will be made through an exchange between Utah Lake, Jordanelle, and Strawberry Reservoir.

Ute Indian Tribal Development

The Ute Indian Tribal Development was initiated with the construction of the 420 acre (surface area) Bottle Hollow Reservoir. The balance of the program, consisting of wildlife habitat development, is authorized in Titles II, III, and V of CUPCA

Diamond Fork System (Modified by CUPCA)

The completed portions of the Diamond Fork system consist of Syar tunnel, Sixth Water Aqueduct, and the Diamond Fork Pipeline. The uncompleted portion of the Diamond Fork system is the pipelines and tunnels of the "Diamond Fork Tunnel Alternative" which will convey water from Sixth Water Aqueduct to the recently completed Diamond Fork Pipeline. A turnout would be built at the connection to the Diamond Fork Pipeline to release water to Diamond Fork Creek. The pipelines and tunnels of the "Diamond Fork Tunnel Alternative" would be constructed in lieu of constructing Monks Hollow Dam and Reservoir. The Diamond Fork Pipeline will convey Bonneville Unit and Strawberry Valley Project water along Diamond Fork Creek from the pipelines and tunnels of the "Diamond Fork Tunnel alternative" to the confluence with the Spanish Fork River. Syar Tunnel, Sixth Water Aqueduct, and the Diamond Fork Pipeline have been constructed. The "Diamond Fork Tunnel Alternative" is scheduled for construction in 1999.

Spanish Fork Canyon-Nephi Irrigation System (Added by CUPCA)

The proposed Spanish Fork Canyon-Nephi Irrigation System which replaces the Irrigation and Drainage System, will provide water service to south Utah County and that portion of eastern Juab County lying in the Utah Lake drainage. CUPCA reauthorized construction of the Irrigation and Drainage System to convey water to Sevier Bridge Reservoir on the Sevier River. However, CUPCA also authorized the construction of alternate features to deliver water within the Utah Lake drainage basin, in case the plan to deliver water to the Sevier River Basin was not viable.

When Millard and Sevier Counties withdrew from participation in the CUP, delivery of water to the Sevier River Basin was no longer viable and the alternate plan was activated and was named the "Spanish Fork Canyon-Nephi Irrigation System".

Wasatch County Water Efficiency Project and Daniel Replacement Project(Added by CUPCA)

The Wasatch County Water Efficiency Project and Daniel Replacement Project jointly consists of (1) facilities and operational changes to improve the efficiency of irrigation water use in Wasatch County by renovating the water distribution system in the Heber Valley, and (2) pumps to provide a portion of the conserved water to the Daniel Irrigation Company to replace water diverted from the upper Strawberry River. That diversion, averaging 2,900 acre-feet annually, would be discontinued thus restoring summer flow in a section of the Strawberry River.

Conjunctive Use of Surface Water and Groundwater (Added by CUPCA)

This component consists of the planning and development of systems to allow groundwater recharge, management, and conjunctive use of surface water and groundwater in Salt Lake, Utah, Davis Wasatch, and Weber Counties. CUPCA authorized the Utah Division of Water Resources to conduct this program, building upon studies and demonstrations projects that have been undertaken by local and federal entities.

Additional Studies (Added by CUPCA)

CUPCA authorized various investigations of water management within the Bonneville Unit. The delivery of water from the Colorado River Basin to the Provo River Basin was investigated to identify alternative means of direct diversion. The potential for reducing the salinity of Utah Lake is also being investigated.

Uintah Basin Replacement Project (Added by CUPCA)

The Uintah Basin Replacement Project (UBRP) consists of an enlargement of Big Sand Wash Reservoir, pipeline construction, and canal rehabilitation. These actions could be independent efforts or combined with Uintah and Upalco Replacement Project. Also included in the Uintah Basin Replacement Project are permanent diversion structures on the Strawberry and Duchesne Rivers.

Water Management Improvement (Added by CUPCA)

CUPCA authorized the establishment of the Utah Water Conservation Advisory Board and the development of a comprehensive water conservation plan with the goal of reducing water use. The Advisory Board has been created, and the water conservation program is being implemented. $50,000,000 was authorized to implement conservation measures in order to meet a water conservation goal imposed by CUPCA.

Mitigation and Conservation for Fish, Wildlife and Recreation (Added by CUPCA)

Title III of CUPCA authorized a broad program of environmental and recreation mitigation and conservation measures. CUPCA implements the requirements of the 1980 instream fishery flow agreement (as amended in 1990) to provide 44,400 acre-feet of releases annually to the Duchesne River and its tributaries. CUPCA also sets minimum flows in certain other streams in the Bonneville Unit for improvement and maintenance of fish and riparian habitat.

The Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Commission (Mitigation Commission) was established to develop plans and administer the Utah Reclamation Mitigation and Conservation Account to be funded by contributions from the Federal Government, the State of Utah, the CUWCD, and other project beneficiaries. The Mitigation Commission issued its Mitigation and Conservation Plan in May 1996.

Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement (Added by CUPCA)

Title V of CUPCA contains a variety of provisions for the benefit of the Ute Indian Tribe which, together with earlier agreements, form the Ute Indian Water Rights Settlement. The provisions include quantification of the Tribe`s reserved water rights, allowing increased use of such water, and funds for economic development.

Utah Lake Development

Utah Lake was developed as a storage reservoir beginning in 1872 with the construction of a storage dam at its outlet. It has been used since then to provide supplemental irrigation diversions, many of which occur through the Jordan River, which is downstream from the lake. Utah Lake forms a connecting link in the Bonneville Unit in that water from Strawberry Reservoir supplied to the lake through the Diamond Fork System will be used (through exchange) to augment the water stored in Jordanelle Reservoir.

Jordanelle Dam
Jordanelle Dam and Reservoir, located on the Provo River about 6 miles north of Heber City, provides water storage at an upstream site by exchange for Bonneville Unit water in Utah Lake and Strawberry Reservoir and for most of the water presently regulated in 15 small reservoirs on the headwaters of the Provo River. The reservoir functions as a long term holdover reservoir and is expected to hold storage through a 6 year drought period. Jordanelle has a capacity of 320,300 acre-feet with a surface area of 3,068 acres. The municipal and industrial water stored in Jordanelle Reservoir is delivered to Salt Lake County by way of the Provo River and Jordan Aqueduct, and to northern Utah County by way of the Provo River and Alpine Aqueduct.

Jordan Aqueduct

The Jordan Aqueduct is a 36 mile long aqueduct that extends from near the mouth of Provo Canyon in a northwesterly direction to the Point of the Mountain and the Jordan Water Purification Plant. The aqueduct continues down the west side of the Salt Lake Valley and terminates near 2100 South and 4000 West. About 70,000 acre-feet of water is delivered to the Salt Lake Valley annually through the aqueduct from the Provo River, mountain streams, available ground water, and Jordanelle Reservoir.

Alpine Aqueduct

The Alpine Aqueduct is located in Utah Valley and extends from the mouth of Provo Canyon north to Lehi and south to Provo. The aqueduct conveys water from the Provo River to the Utah Valley Purification Plant. It will also carry treated water to Orem and Provo, Utah, and to communities at the northern end of Utah Valley.

Indian Commitments System

To compensate the Ute Indian Tribe for economic losses associated with stream fishing in Rock Creek within the Uintah and Ouray Indian Reservation, Bottle Hollow Reservoir was constructed to provide fishing, wildlife, and recreation activities. The recreation-oriented enterprises can be developed to provide additional employment and needed income for members of the Ute Indian Tribe. Development of wildlife management areas on Ute Tribal lands will be included through the Bonneville Unit.

Bottle Hollow Dams and Reservoir

Bottle Hollow Reservoir, located at Bottle Hollow Resort on Indian land about 1 mile west of Fort Duchesne and about 6 miles east of Roosevelt, is an off stream reservoir on Bottle Hollow Draw. Water to fill the reservoir; which is used exclusively for fishing, wildlife, and recreation purposes; comes from the Uinta River and is diverted through the Indian owned Bench Canal. Two dams and a dike created this 11,100 acre-foot reservoir. The north dam is 475 feet long and 57 feet high, and the south dam is 590 feet long and 69 feet high. The 780 foot long dike is about 9 feet high. The outlet works and spillway have capacities of 210 and 30 cubic feet per second, respectively; both are located in the south dam and have a combined outlet. About 287,000 cubic yards of embankment material were required for the dams and dike

Wildlife Management Areas on Ute Tribal Lands

As part of the Bonneville Unit commitment to the Indians, six waterfowl areas have been selected for development by Ute Tribal authorities. The waterfowl areas will occupy Indian lands along the Duchesne River between Ouray and Bridgeland. When developed, these areas will mitigate waterfowl losses attributable to the Bonneville Unit in the Uinta Basin and provide additional hunting benefits for waterfowl and upland game.

Diversion Dams

Docs Diversion Dams
Hades Creek Diversion Dam
Layout Creek Diversion Dam
Rhodes Diversion Dam
Vat Diversion Dam
Water Hollow Diversion Dam
Win Diversion Dam

Return to top



The features of the Bonneville Unit were originally grouped into six major systems, the Starvation Collection System, the Strawberry Collection System, the M&I System, the Ute Indian Tribal Development, the Diamond Fork system, and the I&D System.

CUPCA modified some of the six Bonneville Unit systems by adding or eliminating features. The most notable changes occurred to the I&D and Diamond Fork Systems. The I&D System was reauthorized with changes including the elimination of facilities to convey water from Utah Lake to the Mosida area, the draining of Benjamin Slough, and diking of Goshen Bay and Provo Bay in Utah Lake. CUPCA required the Main Conveyance Aqueduct to be constructed as a pipeline, instead of including reaches of open canals as previously proposed. Provisions were also included affecting the service area of the system. The I&D System was subsequently replaced by the Spanish Fork CanyonNephi System and will no longer deliver Bonneville Unit water outside the Utah Lake drainage basin. Requirements for minimum streamflows were added to the operation of the Diamond Fork System.


The Central Utah Project plan has evolved from previous investigations of various independent projects. The project will achieve and enlarge upon the water development objectives of practically all the earlier plans, although generally by different means. Because of this larger, more flexible operation, it will provide more complete and efficient utilization of the available water supply than would the several independent developments and will provide more benefits for the cost involved.


The Bonneville Unit was authorized for construction in 1956 by the Colorado River Storage Project Act (CRSP). The legislation to provide for the completion of the Bonneville Unit of the Central Utah Project was signed into law by the President of the United States on October 30, 1992, and amended by CRSP. CUPCA authorized the Central Utah Water Conservancy District (CUWCD) to plan, design, and construct the remaining Bonneville Unit features and the Mitigation Commission to implement the mitigation and conservation for fish, wildlife, and recreation.

The Irrigation and Drainage System, which was reauthorized in CUPCA, has subsequently been replaced by the Spanish Fork Canyon Nephi Irrigation System (SFN System).

Besides providing direction for the completion of the six Bonneville Unit systems, CUPCA authorized other Bonneville Unit components that improve water management and wildlife habitats.


Construction of the Bonneville Unit began in 1966, and has proceeded slowly because of its complexity, requirements resulting from the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969, and inadequate federal funding. State and local officials requested Congress to empower the CUWCD to complete the construction of the CUP.

Congress responded to local concerns by enacting CUPCA, which was signed into law in October of 1992. CUPCA required a supplement to the 1988 DPR, and increased the authorized expenditures for various features of the CUP. CUPCA also established the Mitigation commission to implement mitigation for existing and proposed components of the Bonneville Unit.

In compliance with CUPCA, the CUWCD developed alternatives for conveying Bonneville Unit water by pipeline to agricultural areas of southern Utah and eastern Juab counties, and M&I water to southern Utah county. These alternatives were developed with input from the SFN Planning Team members. The SFN Planning Team was comprised of representatives from local, county, state, and federal agencies, environmental groups, special interest groups and affected water users.

Construction of the SFN System is projected to take a period of nine years. This will be preceded by a period of approximately one year to complete designs and specifications and to acquire rights- of-way for the first contract.

Construction will begin with the Spanish Fork Pipeline and then will proceed along the aqueduct in successive pipelines. Construction to replace the High Line Canal will require coordination to avoid interruption of Strawberry Valley Project water delivery. This will be achieved by confining pipeline construction activities to the nonirrigaiton season.

Initial operation of the various pipelines of the Main Conveyance Aqueduct would occur as soon as possible after completion of construction and pressure testing of the pipeline. In the case of the Spanish Fork, Snell Canyon, and Salem Bench Pipelines, initial operation would depend upon completion of the "Diamond Fork Tunnel Alternative" or the use of another means of diverting water from Diamond Fork Creek into the Diamond Fork Pipeline, which supplies the aqueduct with water.

Return to top


Bonneville Unit benefits have monetary values totaling $123.5 million per year.

Other benefits will occur for which no monetary value has been claimed. The need to relocate roads and highways will provide an opportunity to upgrade older sections of roads to current standards. No monetary benefits are ascribed to such highway improvements, which will be completed at federal costs. The Diamond Fork Pipeline will reduce and control flows in Diamond Fork Creek, thereby reducing turbidity in the stream. Another intangible benefit is the security for those who use the water is knowing they have a clean, dependable source of water. The security of flood protection for those who are downstream of the major project features also provides intangible benefits.


Water from local supplies is not sufficient to irrigate all eligible agricultural land and varies from year to year. Moreover, local supplies tend to diminish in late summer, reducing crop efficiency on those lands that do receive irrigation water. The total project irrigation supply from the Bonneville Unit is estimated to be 111,800 acre-feet per year and provides supplemental and full service irrigation water supplies to Duchesne, Wasatch, Utah, and Juab counties. The SFN System will provide an average of 73,100 acre-feet of irrigation water annually for eligible land, most of which requires only supplemental water to permit irrigation throughout the entire growing season.

Municipal and Industrial

The Bonneville Unit provides an annual M&I water supply of 107,360 acre-feet. The M&I water is made available to cities and districts that petition for project water. Annual water deliveries are made available to Salt Lake valley for 70,000 acre-feet; northern Utah County, 20,000 acre-feet, south Utah County, 11,200 acre-feet, Wasatch County, 2,660 acre-feet; and Duchesne County 500 acre-feet.


Recreation benefits are based on the increased opportunity for public recreation at facilities constructed at Bonneville Unit reservoirs. Benefits have been estimated by the unit day value method in coordination with the U.S. Forest Service (USFS) and the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation to ensure compliance with existing laws and Water Resource Council directives.

Water based recreation is provided on various Bonneville Unit reservoirs. Stream fishing opportunity is being increased through the maintenance of minimum flows and reduction of high flows. Upland game hunting opportunity is also increased as a result of wildlife enhancements. The recreation opportunity fills a growing demand, particularly in northern Utah and Salt Lake Counties.

Hydroelectric Power

Olmsted Powerplant, completed in 1904, has a capacity of 10.3 MW.  The powerplant was constructed and is operated by PacifiCorp.

Jordanelle Powerplant, completed in 2008, has a capacity of 13 MW. The powerplant was constructed and is operated by the Central Utah Water Conservancy District and Heber Light & Power under a lease of power privilege contract.

Flood Control

Flood control benefits are based on U.S. Corps of Engineers estimates of possible flood damage that will be avoided by the construction of the Bonneville Unit. These benefits are provided by Jordanelle and Starvation Reservoirs. Benefits will also occur around the perimeter of Utah Lake and along the Jordan River through the combined operation of these facilities. These estimates, shown in the 1988 DPR, have been indexed to a 1996 price level using the USBR`s construction cost index. The current estimate of $1,395,000 annually also includes the average annual cost of 10,000 acre-feet of reservoir capacity dedicated to flood control in Jordanelle Reservoir and 3,000 acre-feet in Starvation Reservoir.

Return to top

Last updated: May 27, 2009